Disney Princesses: 'Beauty and the Beast' to 'Sleeping Beauty,' Ranking Them As Role Models (PHOTOS)
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The Disney Princesses are a controversial subject among some parents. Either they're considered iconic reminders of Disney's animated classics, or ubiquitous examples of the studio's marketing genius. Worse still, some cultural critics believe the princesses are dangerous, anti-feminist role models for young girls.
But not all princesses are alike. Disney's reigning beauties all have something to offer, even the old-school ones who are more damsels-in-distress than their contemporary counterparts. Moviefone has ranked the princesses according to the example they set for the girls who love them and want to be them.
<strong>Virtues:</strong> She's the "fairest one of all," but she's quite the humble young princess. She loves forest animals, cleans and tends for the cottage she thinks belongs to children, and then befriends and cares for the misfit dwarves. She's a vision of loveliness inside and out, always trusting and helping others. <strong>Flaws:</strong> There's a line between trusting and gullible, and poor Snow crosses it when she bites into that Old Hag's poisoned apple. She's not the brightest of the Princesses, and her naivete hasn't aged well with time.
<strong>Virtues:</strong> Like Snow White, Cinderella is a friend to animals -- even rodents! The mice and birds adore their Cinderelly so much they even make her original, albeit doomed, ball gown. She's gorgeous and self-sacrificing and never complains, even under unthinkable circumstances. <strong>Flaws: </strong>In the face of her step-mother and step-sisters' cruelty, she never once resists -- humbly accepting her lowly place in their lives until she's visited by her Fairy Godmother. If it weren't for Prince Charming's persistence, she'd still be wearing rags and scrubbing floors.
Aurora ("Sleeping Beauty")
<strong>Virtues:</strong> Having been blessed by fairies with beauty and song, Aurora (brought up as Briar Rose) is not only gorgeous but talented as well. Like all of the old-school princesses, she's sweet and gentle. She dreams of falling in love and having a life outside of her humble home with her elderly guardians. <strong>Flaws: </strong>There's not much to Aurora. She's kindhearted and lovely and instantly falls in love with Philip, although at the time neither of them knows she's the hidden princess. And let's face it, she showed no restraint when it came to that spinning wheel!
Ariel ("The Little Mermaid")
<strong>Virtues:</strong> The flame-haired mermaid is courageous and curious and talented. Her voice is renowned for its beauty, and she's quite the adventurer -- wreaking all sorts of havoc for straying too far from her underwater home to search for treasures from above the sea. <strong>Flaws:</strong> She renders herself literally voiceless and abandons her home for a guy. That's not exactly a good message to send young girls. Of course, everything ends with a happily ever after, but she makes a rather unwise decision to barter with Ursula.
Belle ("Beauty and the Beast")
<strong>Virtues:</strong> Belle is smart. The "peculiar girl" of her village, she loves books and prizes intelligence and character above popularity and good looks. She turns down a proposal from Gaston, her town's most desirable bachelor who's nonetheless a dim bulb, and winds up falling in love with the Beast despite his frightening appearance ... and the fact he's imprisoned her. <strong>Flaws:</strong> Her only major flaw is believing Gaston and the townsfolk would listen to her when she explains the Beast isn't a threat to them.
<strong>Virtues: </strong>Unhappy and bored with her sequestered life in the castle, Jasmine -- the Sultan's daughter -- longs for adventure and flees to visit the marketplace, where she stumbles upon Aladdin. She and Aladdin realize they have a lot in common, even though he's a "street rat" and she's a princess. Jasmine falls in love with Aladdin, even though he's a commoner. <strong>Flaws: </strong>OK, so she's a bit of a diva, but in the context of this humble and sometimes docile lot, that's not a flaw at all!
<strong>Virtues:</strong> The 17th Century daughter of the Chief Powhatan is Disney's first historically based Princess. She's brave and adventurous, and despite how corny that 'Colors of the Wind' song is, Pocahontas follows her heart to aid and then love Captain John Smith. <strong>Flaws:</strong> We'd love to rank Pocahontas higher, but the movie is controversial and riddled with inaccuracies, so we suggest supplementing the movie with books about the Native American princess or waiting until the kids are old enough to see Terrence Malick's "The New World."
<strong>Virtues:</strong> She fearlessly disguises herself as a boy in order to take her father's place in the army. As a conscript, she trains as fiercely as her male cohorts and proves herself without revealing her true identity. Since at one point she's deemed unfit for marriage, she finds her worth in helping her family and country. Of course, eventually Mulan does find love -- with a commanding officer who understands her abilities as a warrior. <strong>Flaws</strong>: It's a shame Mulan is one of the underrated princesses, because she rocks. Her only flaw is that she had to deceive those around her about who she really was to serve in the Imperial army.
Tiana ("The Princess and the Frog")
<strong>Virtues</strong>: Now here's a princess with ambition. She's hard working and is determined to earn enough money to start her own restaurant -- a dream of hers passed down from her late father. She's intelligent and self-possessed, and even when she agrees to kiss the frog -- and subsequently becomes one -- never loses sight of herself. <strong>Flaws:</strong> She might be the only princess who waits a beat too long to admit that she's fallen in love. But again, it's fine with us, because she gets her man AND her dream restaurant!
<strong>Virtues:</strong> She's fiercely protective, powerful and loyal. When Eugene needs to be saved, she doesn't hesitate to rescue him with a toss of her long and magical hair. She's willing to sacrifice her happiness to ensure her dangerous "Mother" doesn't harm Eugene. Rapunzel also falls in love based on character and not status, since Eugene is a reformed thief, not a prince. She sees the best in people, even those who are labeled outcasts or misfits. <strong>Flaws:</strong> Having been imprisoned in a tower for her entire life, Rapunzel is understandably naïve, but that's not her fault.